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Red Deer Ronald McDonald House turns on Christmas lights

Red Deer’s Ronald McDonald House is shining bright.
Ronald McDonald House has turned on its Christmas lights to spread a little holiday cheer. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deer’s Ronald McDonald House is shining bright.

The nonprofit organization that supports families seeking vital medical treatment for their seriously ill or injured child hosted its annual Light the House event on Thursday.

At the event, the house celebrates the holiday season, the community and aims to brighten the day for families using the facility by turning on its Christmas lights.

“This is an opportunity to bring some joy to families who are away from their homes and perhaps aren’t able to prepare to light up their own house,” said Dusty Friesen, interim general manager of the Red Deer Ronald McDonald House.

“It also provides a bit of beauty and brilliance for people driving by on Gaetz or by the hospital.”

It’s challenging for families to be away from home at a time like this, Friesen noted.

“Some of our families have travelled from long distances and are away from their loved ones. We’re creating some Christmas magic of our own for them,” Friesen said.

This Christmas, Ronald McDonald will have its North Pole operating inside the facility as well. This space allows families to choose gifts for each other, which will be wrapped by volunteers.

“We’ll open two weeks before Christmas and stay open for a week after Christmas,” Destiny Mand, Red Deer Ronald McDonald House community partnership officer.

“Anybody who stays at the house during that time, even if they aren’t here on Christmas, they get to pick a gift. The kids get something for mom and dad. Mom and dad get something for the kids.”

Mand said the goal is to take stress away from families.

“Everything we do is about taking stress off of the parents. At Christmastime we don’t want them thinking they have to rush out and get gifts or potentially take on a financial burden when they could potentially be out of work to take care of their sick child,” she said.

“This is completely filled with donations. We’re always looking for gifts for babies, moms and dads.”

There will be a pair of toy drives in support of the North Pole room this weekend. One will be held at Superstore on Saturday, and the other is a Stuff A Bus event at Parkland Mall on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information on the Ronald McDonald House, visit

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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